Figures of Speeches

By popular request, here is a treatise on economic statistics:

“Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”

Well, enough of that subject. I heard that quote (attributed to Mark Twain) when I was eight or ten years old, and I remember it every time Paul Ryan is interviewed by some post-turtle like Wolf Blitzer about one of his smoke-and-mirrors budgets.

So I leave you with the definitive (also borrowed) example of an economic statistic, courtesy of Stephanie Coontz in the New York Times (“When Numbers Mislead,” May 25).

She notes that in 2011 the average household income in Steubenville, Ohio was $46,341.

If Warren Buffett and Oprah Winfrey were to move there tomorrow, Steubenville’s average income would instantly jump to $75,263.

Then Steubenvillians would be exactly as happy as you’re going to be when Paul Ryan uncorks his next bottle of snake oil.

You now know everything there is to know about economic statistics.

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About Al

Editors of The Horse You Rode In On (listed below) hail from Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. All contributions are signed. When guest contributors are included, their comments will be signed in a manner consistent with their needs for discretion, witness protection, or yearning for personal adulation.